CHICAGO (CBS) — A few hundred students staged a walkout Friday morning at Lincoln Park High School — one of the state’s top schools — to protest the firings of several teachers, as the school prepares to expand a rigorous program.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports the students chanted “save our teachers” as they marched out of school around 9:30 a.m. and gathered on Armitage Avenue.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools said at least eight teachers at Lincoln Park High School have been told they will not be brought back next school year, when the school goes wall-to-wall with the International Baccalaureate program.
It was the Principal Michael Boraz’s decision alone not to bring those teachers back in the fall. According to the Chicago Reader, the eight teachers who are being let go were promised earlier that they’d have jobs when the IB program expands to the whole school.
In a written statement provided by CPS, Boraz did not directly address the teacher firings, or the student walkout.
“As principal of Lincoln Park High School, it’s imperative to make the decisions that are in the best interests of all our students and their academic success,” Boraz said. “We look forward to launching the wall-to-wall IB program this fall that builds upon our successful IB diploma program and will provide all students a quality, rigorous curriculum that lays the groundwork for their success.”
Students were upset that teachers they consider role models at one of the state’s top schools were being laid off as part of the move to install the IB program throughout the school.
“Our teachers, you know, they’re the rock of our school, and they’re the reason why we’re out here today, because they’re really our role models, and they didn’t deserve to be treated the way that they were,” said Kylie Kahn, a sophomore taking part in the walkout.
Kahn’s chemistry teacher is one of those losing her job.
“She has a big family, she has an autistic son, and she was originally told she was re-hired, and then she was sent a rescinding letter, and she didn’t deserve to be treated that way. She’s been here for a very long time, and teaching for 20 years,” Kahn said.
Bitanya Gevrekristos, a junior at Lincoln Park, said she’s fighting to convince the principal and CPS to keep the teachers who were dismissed.
“We’re doing this for them,” she said. “They did this for us … by striking, and we’re going to do this for them by walking out.”
Gevrekristos said two of her favorite teachers are among those being fired.
“One of them is for sure. She was a biology teacher, and she’s one of the best teachers ever, because she actually brings a subject into actual context,” she said.
Other students said the move to expand the IB program wall-to-wall is being used to fire tenured teachers and replace them with less-experienced teachers with lower salaries.
The district said it will work with the Chicago Teachers Union and the individual teachers to find them other jobs in the system.
Police were on-hand during the walkout, mainly to keep traffic flowing on Armitage.
Students were loud, but peaceful, as they rallied outside the school.
Many students began heading back to class around 10:45 a.m.